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Pistons vs. Timberwolves preview: Minnesota visits for a critical game for lottery odds

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With a loss, Detroit will have a commanding lead for the second-worst record

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Minnesota Timberwolves Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

In one of the more impactful games for the Detroit Pistons’ long-term future in quite some time, the third-worst Minnesota Timberwolves come to the Motor City to face a Pistons roster that looks to be extremely short-handed.

Should Detroit lose, they will remain at least one game worse than the third-worst Oklahoma City Thunder and 1.5 games clear of a trio that contains Minnesota. With only two Pistons games remaining after this one, Detroit would clinch no better than the sixth-worst record and control their own lottery odds destiny, so to speak, with two tougher games against the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat remaining.

Game Vitals

When: Tuesday, May 11, 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit

Analysis

Detroit enters the antepenultimate game of their 2020-21 season missing virtually every veteran within shouting distance. Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Cory Joseph, Wayne Ellington, and Hamidou Diallo are all listed as out for various reasons with both the Jacksons, Frank and Josh, listed as questionable to boot. Without any actual shooting guards to speak of, it’s fair to expect one of the Jacksons to start and play in at least limited minutes. Josh Jackson is the better bet with Frank turning his ankle against the Chicago Bulls two days ago, but it is unclear how much oral surgery has set back Josh.

With Frank Jackson as the only shooting guard available against Chicago, Dwane Casey frequently turned to a two-point guard lineup in the form of Killian Hayes and Saben Lee. Hayes played off the ball more often than usual, something Casey has said he wants to implement. A limited roster should allow that experiment to continue.

The frontcourt will be led by Isaiah Stewart and Sekou Doumbouya, the latter of whom is coming off his best game of the season. Sekou is playing exceptionally under control recently and will look to continue that trend against a long Minnesota frontcourt that has looked much more dangerous in recent weeks.

Detroit gets its first look at Minnesota since the opening game of the season, and tonight the Pistons will see an evolved Anthony Edwards.

The reigning No. 1 pick is playing the best professional basketball of his young career and posting his most efficient scoring numbers in April and May. His strong play and Minnesota getting healthy have changed the Timberwolves’ lottery odds for the worse, sparking a streak of six wins in their last 10 games.

If that continues, Pistons fans cheering hard for the second-best lottery odds this summer will breathe a bit easier after tonight.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (20-49):

Killian Hayes, Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Sekou Doumbouya, Isaiah Stewart

Minnesota Timberwolves (21-47):

Ricky Rubio, D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, Jarred Vanderbilt, Karl-Anthony Towns

Question of the Game

How hard are we going to have to sweat the tank over the final two games?